Let’s get into physical

4 07 2010

I thought I’d be more sore.

Yeah, a bit of tightness across the shoulders, down my triceps, and I can now feel muscles just above my ass that I forgot I had, but, overall, I’m unexpectedly able to move.

The first day at the gym was a success.

It’s silly, that I need a gym, but I do. Having Prospect Park a less-than-10-minute run/from my house was not enough. Clear weather, open-enough sidewalks, not enough. Unhappiness with my body, not enough.

Remember when I said that I’d start walking 4 or 5 days a week as a way to ease myself into a running schedule? Yeah, didn’t work.

I do walk a fair amount, but not enough to counteract the tremendous amount of sitting I do. And while my diet is pretty good, I like cheese—I really like cheese—and I’d rather think about what I eat in terms of taste and balance rather than calories—what I want instead of what I avoid.

I’m not fat, probably not, by most accounts, terribly out of shape. We Americans are apparently packin’ on the pounds in record numbers, and all to the detriment of our hearts and knees and insulin levels, so perhaps I should feel comparatively good.

But that’s not how it works. While I do agree that health and fitness matter, I hate the moralizing that accompanies so many conversations on diet and well-being, as if to be fat is to be bad. I think to be fat is to be fat, and that’s all. There are unhappy consequences to carrying around extra weight, but those consequences accrue to the person carrying such weight, not me, so it’s not for me to pile moral pounds on top of the rest.

After all, I have plenty of my own excess baggage to lug around; it’s just not as obvious as fat.

I’m not without judgment, of course, but I have learned to ask what the point of it is before I let my criticisms loose. And there is no point to thinking that body size is in any way related to moral worth.

That’s how I try to view others, at least; for myself, well, I can come up with plenty of reasons for judgment.

I don’t want to be skinny, I don’t want to look like a 14-year-old boy, but I also don’t want to look—or more accurately, to feel—how I do now. I have a sense of myself as someone who is fit and able to take care of herself, and right now, I don’t feel fit and can’t count on my body to do what I want it to do. I like to be active, and to think of myself as active, and since I’m not the former I’m can’t do the latter.

And that makes me unhappy.

Perhaps I should ease up, be more accepting of this fortimpth body and the limits those fortimpth years impose. There is wisdom in the notion of letting things be.

But there is also wisdom in recognizing unconditional self-acceptance is not one of my strong points. I should perhaps be less harsh in how I view my body, and worry less about what others, especially possible intimate-others, might think about my body.

Yet telling myself to ease up on myself rarely works. No, I’m the kind of person who has to do, first, and only then can I say, This is enough.

And so, the gym. I won’t have to haunt the place 7 days a week, or freak out if I miss a day or two; three or 4 days a week should suffice, allow me to get my bod into a shape which makes sense to me, allow me to say, This is enough.

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One foot in front of the other

23 01 2010

I’ve become such a lard ass.

It’s not (just) that my diet has gone to hell, but that I’ve basically stopped moving.

Oh, I get up to get my coffee and I walk to the train and I take the stairs, but beyond that and some basic weight-lifting, nada.

I’ve been physically active my entire life. The 1970s were a time of mothers shoving their kids out the door and saying ‘Go play!’, as in, Get out my hair for awhile.

The adults did what they had to do, and we did what we had to do—which involved a combination of innocent exploring and things best not revealed to the adults.

Both sides preferred it that way.

So we went off roaming around backyards and alleys and streets, racing our bikes and clambering up trees and over fences, and trying to scrape off any excess mud and blood before making our ways through the back doors at dinner- or bed-time.

We didn’t call it exercise, of course. We called it play.

I did start ‘exercising’, I guess, in high school, where I ran cross-country and track and played basketball, but even then, it more about ‘going out for sports.’

College was running and biking and ‘staying in shape.’

Only in grad school did I really start ‘exercising,’ as in, joining a gym, lifting weights, swimming laps, and running or biking in place.

It  was fine, really, especially once I fell into a routine: hit the gym in the late morning, then head over to the poli sci department for the rest of my day.

There was, of course, down time in grad school and after, but it was rare that exercise lapsed for more than half a year.

Until I moved to New York. I biked a lot my first summer here, but after that, not so much. There was also some running, but I never managed to keep at it long enough to stick. My job at the bookstore at least required that I move around a fair bit, and when working three jobs there was lots of veryfastwalking to and from the trains.

But it’s been awhile since I worked at the bookstore, and I spend a laaaaahhhhht of time online.

Hence: lard ass.

I’m not fat, although I have gained weight, but I don’t feel right. I’m used to feeling fit, that I can take care of myself, and lately I’ve just felt bogged down. I’ve also had a few issues with my gut, which was well-behaved before I, well, stopped moving.

As mentioned in early January, I’m not much for New Year’s resolutions, but it did occur to me that if I were dissatisfied with my degeneration into an indigestion-ridden blob, I might just consider doing something about it.

So many excuses not to: I can’t afford a gym. I need to find a job. I don’t have time. Later, I promise.

Well, I did find another job, and while I still can’t afford a gym, it’s not truly necessary. [*Update: There’s a gym in DT Brooklyn which is mighty cheap, so perhaps. . . .] Furthermore, instead of thinking I need to give 90 minutes every day over to sweating, maybe I could start small, by, say, walking. Briskly.

I do prefer to run, but starting a running routine from too far in out-of-shape-land is a recipe for failure. Nope, I need to trim myself up a bit, remind myself of what it’s like to propel myself along, and then, once it’s light enough long enough after work, I can start running or biking again. Hell, I’m less than a 15-minute walk to the southern end of Prospect Park, which is a lovely place in which to breathe deeply.

So, I’ve begun taking those walks. I’ll be working an office job M-F and teaching Th & F nights, but I figure I can simply get off the train at my usual transfer point and walk the remaining leg at least the nights I’m not teaching and, depending upon my mood, the trains, and the weather, perhaps even those nights as well. And then on the weekends, longer walks in the park.

If I manage to keep to the highly-manageable schedule of 5 days of walking a week, I figure I can graduate to running and biking by the time the light lasts into the night.

That’s the plan, at least.

I miss those days in which I didn’t even have to think about my body, when I could simply jump off the back stoop and tear off to the nearest trouble.

C’est la vie. My jumping and tearing off days may be over, but I can still move.

Oh yeah, for an old broad, I can still get around.